A little taste of Mexico

I’ve finally uploaded the few photos I have from my Mexico trip to my Flickr account. I didn’t take very many photos myself, and the following series was taken by Harriet (thanks!).

Raquel, one of the ladies on the spa trip, grew up in Mexico. One evening, she shared with us a type of fruit that she recalls eating in her youth. Here’s Raquel showing us the fruit and how to prepare it for eating.

Raquel displaying fruitThe fruit is cut open and served up with a spoon, sort of like a soft boiled egg. Raquel described the flavor as “delicious,” but it certainly didn’t look that way. When it was cut open, it looked sort of lot snot. Snot with lots of chunky boogers in it. You can see it here in my hand.

The infamous fruitSee how it’s sort of viscous and slimy? See those chunks of stuff? Those are the seeds (boogers). I decided that the easiest way to eat the thing was to down it like an oyster. So…

A fruit shooter

Down the hatch! It actually was delicious. The seeds added a crunchiness that reminded me of noshing on a pomegranate.

I make a habit of trying available local food or culinary specialities whenever I travel, and this is far from the strangest thing I’ve eaten. (I think the fried caterpillars in Zambia would rate as the strangest.) Wish I could recall the name of the fruit! If you have any idea, leave a note in the comments.

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The newest workout: shovel aerobics

Actually, I can’t really complain much about the amount of shoveling. Honestly, 9 inches of snow (especially this fairly light, powdery stuff) is nothing compared to what those poor folks in upper NY state have been enduring for the past few weeks. I just can’t imagine having snow piled up to the eaves of my house!

For all the fuss, I’d have thought that the storm would be worse. Yes, the south end of Lake Shore Drive had to be shut down last night due to white out conditions, but this is Chicago after all. We’re hardy folk used to weather extremes and harsh winters. Right?

I’d much rather have the snow than the extreme cold of the past 2 weeks. Snow can be pretty and fun. I’ve enjoyed watching the dogs deal with it: drifts in the back yard are as tall as their shoulders, and they bound through them valiantly, following their standard route patrolling the boundaries of the yard. And Hannah just loves to snap her jaws along the surface, snatching up mouthfuls of snow. I swear, Hannah will eat anything.

Diversions

The Spring 2007 Interweave Knits came in the mail yesterday! There are several patterns that interest me, but none more than the Cable-Down Raglan by Stefanie Japel.


Front and back are stunning. I love the shaping and the tailored look. As soon as I finish Mermaid, I think this will be my next project.

I had to dive into the stash today to see what I had on hand that could work for this pattern. The pattern calls for Louet Gems Worsted (100% merino wool), but I only have one odd skein of that in my stash. While I haven’t been following the Knit from Your Stash fad this year, I do realize that I have quite a stash by now and that I really should use yarn I have on hand if at all possible. Besides, I’m already awaiting two packages (my first shipment from the Rockin’ Sock Club and some stuff — not yarn, but accoutrements — from Knit Picks), and I just don’t want to have a third on the way right now.

So, a quick run through stash reveals these choices for the Cable-Down Raglan:

I’m leaning towards the Lorna’s Laces Dove in Lilac, ’cause I think this tweedy yarn and soft, spring-like color will work very well with the pattern. I’d love to hear other opionons in the Comments, though.

OK, I’m off to bed now. A cab is picking me up a 6 AM tomorrow (yikes!) so I can catch a flight to Dallas to attend a 2-day meeting. At least it will be moderately warmer there.

Winter Sports

After reading Yarn Harlot’s blog today, I see that one of my issues with winter is that I don’t do winter sports. Unless shoveling counts as a winter sport, that is. I did some of that today, and if the weather report is accurate, I’ll have more to do tomorrow. Rah, rah.

I can appreciate the beauty of winter. Dry, powdery snow looks awfully pretty in the right light: it’s so sparkly.

Our winter sports seem to revolve around the TV. I watch lots of TV in the winter, and this year I’m glad that we upgraded to an HDTV. Wow, what a difference! I’m sure many of the folks on camera are horrified when they first see what they look like on HDTV. (Oprah, I’m sure your makeup artists are very skilled, but they just can’t hide those bags and dark circles under your eyes from the HD; please give yourself a rest.)

The incredible irony for us is how we receive our HD signal: from a plain vanilla roof antenna.

In November 2005, we lost the connection to our roof antenna in a wind storm. We called around trying to find someone who would reconnect it for us, but no one wanted to get up on our roof in the late fall/winter. So, after a couple months of vainly trying to pull in a decent signal with an indoor (“rabbit ears”) antenna, we bit the bullet and signed up for satellite TV. (I was not going to even entertain the idea of signing up for cable TV. The company that owns the cable franchise in our area, Comcast, is just plain evil in my book. E-V-I-L. Never getting any of my business at all.)

So, last February the satellite dish is set up and we got TV again. I was happy to have TV, but not so happy to be paying for it. I just don’t understand the concept of paying for TV unless I get it ad-free. Then, I can see why I’d have to pay for it.

In the spring, we got a call from one of the guys we’d contacted that he could reconnect our antenna. Even though we had the satellite, we decided to go for so we could have a back up TV-viewing source.

We got the new HDTV in November. We noticed our old TV (12+ years old, and still kicking) was starting to have picture challenges, so we decided to upgrade. We didn’t get an LCD or a plasma; we found a nice TV with an HD tuner and a traditional picture tube (very reliable technology) that was thinner than average. (But not lighter than average. Oy, I forgot how heavy a picture tube is!)

The HD tuner is built into the set, and it was capable of using dual antenna sources. So, we hooked up the roof antenna as well as the satellite and tried to tune in an HD channel through the roof antenna. (We weren’t paying for an HD satellite service, so that wouldn’t work). The only HD channel we tuned in was CBS, none of the other local channels worked. We were very disappointed, and figured that we needed a new roof antenna to pull in HD. So, we just gave up.

After the new year, we were seeing all these notices about local programming being broadcast in HD. So, we gave the roof antenna a try again. Voila! We got LOTS of HD channels: CBS, NBC, ABC, WGN, etc. Our local public broadcast station, WTTW, broadcasts over 3 channels now, 2 of which are HD and show different programs during the same time slot. Awesome!

I swear we’re watching the local broadcast channels more than the satellite channels that we’re paying for! Hmmm…maybe it’s time to get rid of the satellite, eh? Although I would miss Comedy Central and my South Park fix…Maybe after the winter TV viewing season is over. Excuse me now while sign off to go catch some TV.

The cruelest month

It’s February. Rah, rah. I’ve often said that February is the cruelest month, and this year I think many others will agree with me.

January is usually the month where we get all the bitter cold weather in Chicago. Then we limp along through February until spring finally starts to make an appearance in March. February may be the shortest month of the year if you just look at the calendar, but the way we experience it is as too many days between us and the thaw.

This year, February has been the bitter cold month and we’re not limping through it, we’re hunkering down and just praying for it to pass.

Last Monday morning, we found that the pipes in our master bathroom had frozen over night. This has never happened to us in the 5+ years we’ve lived in this house. I had just returned from a week in Mexico the night before, and it was not quite the homecoming that I wanted. The day I flew back to Chicago from my week-long trip to the lovely spa in Ixtapan de la Sal, the high temperature was 4 Farenheit (that’s -16 C…without the windchill).

While I enjoyed my break in central Mexico, I spent most of it infected with the nasty flu that my husband passed to me as a parting gift. So, my vacation wasn’t as fun and carefree as it could have been. But, I was in a fairly warm spot for a week. And, I was getting a massage every day. Yeah, it was a rude awakening to come back to the deep freeze.

Random Stuff

  • I saw yet another commercial on TV this week that is shamelessly using one of the special songs from my youth. At least GM had the decency to re-record I Melt with You and not use the original version recorded by Modern English.*
  • The new Imbolc issue of AntiCraft is out, and while it is a short one Zabet has included the pattern of her (in)famous Snatchel. I’m going to have give it a try, but likely not soon. I have other items to finish first.
  • I’m slaving away at the sleeves on Mermaid and hoping to finish it by the end of February. (Maybe that would improve my feelings about this month.) I’m immensely thankful for the Hannah Falkenberg KAL and Amy. I could never have worked the pattern successfully just from the booklet that came in the kit; it’s just too confusing. While I love many other Hannah pattern’s, I just can’t imagine working one without one of Amy’s clear, concise spreadsheets.
  • My other knitting project (the one for commuting) is socks for Mark. He wanted long, calf-length socks, so I’m working on the Gentleman’s Half Hose from Nancy Bush’s Knitting Vintage Socks.

Well, that’s enough for now. No photos since my camera seems to be busted. I think the LCD screen was jabbed somehow during one of the numerous hand searches in the Mexico City airport. I’m waiting to see if Mark’s theory that letting it sit with the battery out for some time (not sure how long “some time” is) will help. If not, then I’ll have to either buy a new camera and send it back to Canon for repair.

*This is actually not the first time I Melt With You has been violated in the name of commerce. My friend Adrienne reminded me that it was used previously in a commercial and that I was outraged. Apparently, it was used in a Burger King commercial.